Teachers warned over lurid messages on website

Sarah Cassidy,Education Correspondent
Saturday 30 November 2002 01:00

Teachers using an online "virtual staffroom" have been warned about their behaviour after being caught making death threats against their pupils.

One fantasised about using a large handgun to "blow the head off" the first pupil who failed to shut up, do homework, sit properly at their desk or speak politely to them. Another described her satisfaction at having "vengefully" reduced a six-year-old child to tears.

The comments were made during a discussion between teachers on the website of The Times Educational Supplement. Yesterday the newspaper removed the comments, which included references to shooting pupils, taping up their mouths and nailing their hands to desks.

David Budge, deputy editor of the TES, said it was impossible to monitor every comment posted on the site, but added that the paper would always take immediate action to remove "offensive or potentially libellous" material.

The site, www.tes.co.uk, contained a discussion asking for suggestions on dealing with disruptive classes, "the more extreme the better". In reply, one proposed the "liberal use" of gaffer tape around children's mouths and nailing hands to desks, adding: "I may also keep a machete handy and talk about how Saudi Arabia gets it right!!"

This was followed by a proposal for drug-tipped blow darts and another which recalled that a "serial killer teacher" was a favourite staffroom topic in the message sender's last post – "And unlike Shipman, no one would need to question our motives."

Mr Budge said: "We want to provide a forum where people can discuss freely with one another. Some people step over the line. We try to ensure they don't do that by posting warning notices before they take part in discussion about what they can or can't do."

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